Deedee's Inn all started with...Deedee. A KG teacher asked if anyone wanted her classroom chicks, and I said "YES, I do!" Who knew Deedee the classroom chick would lead to a flock of ten, and to a year of construction on their Inn. The first pictures below show what Deedee's Inn is like now, home to Deedee and her 9 girlfriends.
The current Inn is comprised of two coops and three completely fenced-in runs, plus a chicken yard that is about 25x25 ft. The coops are 4x4 ft and 2x4 ft, the total fenced-inn run space is 80 ft squared. All these little coops and runs are connected with tiny chicken doors. My hens are probably the brightest of the land, because they live in a puzzle. It's like living in Lumosity.com!
The chicken yard (behind the big white door with the "Deedee's Inn" sign) has no ceiling or netting but it has at least 8-ft high fencing all around it, and an avocado tree in it for shade and cover. It also has a chicken swing I made from scraps my neighbor gave me. I have an automatic chicken door so that the hens are locked into their secure coop/run complex after sunset each night (an Adorstore chicken door).
The original Deedee's Inn was a tiny movable coop which I built from a rabbit hutch I had gotten from someone. It looked really spacious for my tiny pullet Deedee plus her one buddy. They also loved getting fresh grass each time I moved it a few feet. I made shades for it when it got hot in the summer.
Then they got so big...! And then there's chicken math...before I knew it, Deedee had 3 friends instead of 1. The little rabbit hutch coop/run was bursting at the seams, and after some persistent checking on Craigslist, I got two old chicken runs and an old coop window from someone, for free. I read a lot online about coop and run design, and then designed the 4x4 coop so that I could use the freebie window, and so the new coop could fit above the 4x4 run and next to the 8x4 run I had gotten. Below I am building the 4x4 coop.
I got some great coop design ideas from this website! I read somewhere how chickens like rubber-covered roosts, and covered mine with cut-open old inner tubes from mountain bike tires (free from the local bike store). I also read about porthole-style windows, made from glass lids and plates. A quick thrift store search, and yes, I had two great chicken windows for $4. My hens all love the window seats on the roosts. If you are also going to use rounded glass for windows, install them in the north-facing wall of your coop, just in case they have a magnifying effect with the sunlight.
A neighbor gave me a bunch of leftover sheet metal he had gotten when he was building his coop. I had also gotten lots of free pressure-treated 2x6's from a friend of another neighbor. Rather than design first and then get the needed materials, I got free materials and then designed something that could work using what I had. This requires more creativity and thought, but is definitely the budget-friendly way to go.
Last spring I got all kinds of free construction materials via a Craigslist ad (kitchen cupboard doors of various kinds, lumber), and I decided to build and add a small 2x4 coop for the next batch of classroom chicks I was being offered. See below.
I also bought another 8x4 run from someone on Craiglist for $50, which was completely covered in hardware cloth (that stuff is pricey new!) and had two big doors. It also came with two plastic nesting boxes. I added that run with the nesting boxes to the Inn also. It did require some run alterations and the addition of some more chicken doors to connect it to the other parts of the Inn...! I also added cardboard boxes and curtains to the nesting boxes. The hens love them.
My two coops (4x4 and 2x4) are small, but since we live in Southern California life happens mostly outside, for us as well as for the hens. Their food, water, and most nesting boxes are all in their runs, and not in their coops. The coops are only used for sleeping, and the big coop has only one small nesting box in case the two favorite boxes in the runs are occupied. The big coop has 8 linear feet of roost and the 2x4 coop has 4 linear feet of roost, which means that there is 12 linear feet of roost for a total of ten hens. Even though all ten can sleep in whichever coop they want, most often five go in the small 2x4 coop and five go in the big coop. Chicken Logic.
So far, I have only spent about $220 on construction materials for the whole Inn. That was mostly on hardware cloth and a few gallons of solid red barn stain to make it all look like a whole. ($50 on one 4x8 run, $60 on stain, $90 on hardware cloth, and some other miscellaneous cost here and there). Building a coop and run can be done on a shoestring, if you are willing to re-use materials and work with what you can find! You can even add cozy nesting box curtains and art on the walls :0)